Some Early Impressions

I HAVE been asked occasionally to join the great army of reminiscence writers: and I have indisputably one qualification for the function. I have passed the line at which retrospection has to take the place once filled by anticipation. If I can expect little from the future, I must remind myself that, as the poet undeniably observes: —

“ Not heaven itself upon the past has power ;
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.”

Old happiness remembered is still an inestimable treasure; it may, even if forgotten, have left us the happier by softening and mellowing our characters: but alas, if heaven cannot destroy the fact, heaven—or some other power — has a turn for obliterating the memory. Any one who, like me, has had much to do with biography must have been painfully impressed by the singular rapidity with which its materials vanish. Again and again I have had to lament the fact. Not long ago it became my duty to collect anecdotes of a friend who died young enough to leave many surviving contemporaries deeply attached to his memory. He had been famous, among other things, for his conversational charm ; for a rare power of embodying subtle thought in quaint humor which made his good sayings part of the intellectual currency of his acquaintance. But when one tried to collect the phrases, the process was like trying to speak to a friend seen distinctly but through a closed window. And the experience, though painful, was normal. A vague general impression remains of some brilliant passages of talk; but the specific instances are forgotten ; or even if remembered, have lost the context which gave them point. Boswell is still unique. No one has inherited his capacity for the dexterous touches which reproduce the dramatic effect as well as the bare words. I must confess too that my memory for facts is treacherous. I can picture vividly a certain passage in my own life which, I may add, was of a distinctly creditable kind. The discovery of a contemporary document not long ago proved to me that my motives had been materially different from what I imagined—and decidedly less admirable. The authentic history which I supposed myself to remember was a pretty little romance which I had unconsciously composed by a judicious manipulation of partial recollections. The disillusioning document has itself disappeared, and I have forgotten its contents. All that I know is that my own story of my own conduct is a misrepresentation. Clearly I am not qualified for autobiography, nor, to say the truth, do I regret the circumstance. I have no reason to think that the story of my “ inner life ” would be in the least interesting and, were it interesting, I should still prefer to keep it to myself. When, therefore, I summon up remembrance of things past, I am forced to confess that my little panorama is full of gaps, often blurred and faded and too probably distorted in detail. Yet I preserve a good many tolerably vivid impressions of the people among whom I have lived and of the influences they have exerted upon me. Some of these may be worth a record. If my confession implies that they must be taken with a certain reserve, an impression is in its way a fact.

Among the most distinct are those left by fourteen years’ residence at Cambridge. To me, as I suppose to most men who as weakly children were cut off from much active share in school life, the period in which I first called myself a man and became conscious of an independent individuality stands out with especial vividness. The world was so interesting then. Perhaps it is for that reason that I cherish a strong affection for the University and even for its material surroundings. I love the sleepy river — “ canal ” or even ditch as scoffers may call it — which slides past the old cottage gardens on its way to wriggle through the broad level of the fens and to girdle the venerable pile of Ely. Have I not run along its banks exhorting our college boat for as many miles as would have taken me to the Mississippi and back? Not even the Alpine scenery is dearer to me. The local sentiment is somehow bound up with the superstitions which thrive in the region; and I absorbed them pretty thoroughly. I believed in the Cambridge ideals. To me, for example, “senior wrangler ” is still a title exciting an almost superstitious veneration. I have, in later days, been able to speak to poets and philosophers, to statesmen and even to bishops without actual collapse. But when in company with a senior wrangler I am conscious of being formed of inferior clay. Had I belonged to the Sister University, a similar fusion of sentiment would perhaps be more generally intelligible. I need only appeal to Matthew Arnold. A man must be dull indeed who could be insensible to the charm of the group of towers which rises above the Isis and of the scenery whose spirit informs the inimitable Scholar Gipsy. Every one must admit that the region is a fitting shrine for the genius of the place, — for that devotion to “lost causes ” and “impossible loyalties ” upon which Arnold dwelt with such loving eloquence. As the Isis to the Cam, so, it may be held, is Oxford to Cambridge. It is the contrast between romance and the picturesque on one side and humdrum prose and monotonous levels on the other. We boast, indeed, of our poets at Cambridge; but if, for some mysterious reason, we have been more prolific in poets than Oxford, it is hardly because we have provided them with a more congenial atmosphere. They throve, perhaps, in a bracing climate. A Cambridge career induced Coleridge to become a heavy dragoon; Byron kept a bear to set a model of manners to the dons of his day; and the one service which the place did for Wordsworth was to enable him for once in his life to drink a little more than was consistent with perfect command of his legs. Cambridge has for the last three centuries inclined to the less romantic side of things. It was for Puritans against the Cavaliers, for Whigs against Jacobites, and down to my time was favored by “Evangelicals ” and the good “ high and dry ” school which shuddered at the development of the “Oxford Movement.” We could boast of no Newman, nor of men who, like Froude and Pattison, submitted for a time to the fascination of his genius and only broke from it with a wrench which permanently affected their mental equilibrium. “I have never known a Cambridge man, ” as a reverent disciple of the prophet lately said to me, “who could appreciate Newman.” Our version of the remark was slightly different. We held that our common sense enabled us to appreciate him thoroughly but by the dry light of reason, and resist the illusions of romantic sentiment. That indeed was the merit of Cambridge in the eyes of those who were responsible for my education. To have sent me to Oxford would have been to risk the contamination of what was then called “Puseyism.” I escaped that danger pretty completely. My family — as this indicates — belonged to the second generation of the so-called “Clapham Sect; ” the “Saints ” as they were called by way of insult; the men who swore by Wilberforce, and fancied that they had accumulated a capital of merit by the anti-slavery crusade which entitled them for the future to live upon credit. They were, said their enemies, effete Puritans, as morose as their ancestors, but without the dignity of still militant fanaticism; Pharisees who hated innocent and artistic pleasure but found consolation in solid material comfort, blinded adherents of a dogmatic system, which had long ceased to represent intellectual advance. I will not argue as to the justice of this accusation against the sect in general. I am content to say that though my childish reverence for certain members of the sect was necessarily of the instinctive variety, it does not seem misplaced to my later judgment. I have met no men in later years who seem to me to have had a higher sense of duty or deeper domestic affections. If they had obvious limitations, believed too implicitly in Noah’s ark, and used language about the “scheme of Salvation ” which does not commend itself to me, they impressed me (very unintentionally) with the conviction that a man may be incomparably better than the creed which he honestly takes himself to believe. The essential Puritan may survive, as the case of Carlyle sufficiently showed, when all his dogmas have evaporated; and I confess that, rightly or wrongly, he is a person for whom I have profound respect and much sympathy. At Cambridge, however, by my time the epithet “Evangelical” generally connoted contempt. The Oxford Movement might be altogether mistaken, but we agreed with it that the old “low church ” position had become untenable. At Cambridge we rather shrank from all vagaries high or low. Our state, an adversary might say, was not the more gracious. If the Oxford school represented “reaction,” it was at least, as Arnold put it, not of Philistine variety. A mistaken or impossible idealism is better than the mere stolid indifference which chokes all speculative activity. To the radical meanwhile the two universities represented two slightly different forms of obstructiveness. They were simply Anglican seminaries; bulwarks of the establishment which was an essential part of the great conservative fortress; mediæval in their constitution and altogether behind the age in their teaching. My undergraduate career fell at a period when such criticisms were about to lead to a practical result. A parliamentary commission began to overhaul us soon afterwards and initiated a process of reconstruction which has been going on ever since. Stanch conservatives at that time prophesied fearful results. The English were to sink to the level of foreign universities: an awful descent! They were to be “Germanized,” — to be contaminated by “neology,” whatever these appalling phrases might mean, generally to be trimmed and clipped in conformity with the fads of “damned intellectuals.” In fact, the universities had somehow worked out a system which had become so thoroughly familiar to their own members and so consistently elaborated as to have the character of a natural organism while to the outsider it appeared to be radically illogical and grotesque.

The essential point was, one may say broadly, that Oxford and Cambridge were, properly speaking, not universities at all but federated groups of colleges. Each of the seventeen colleges on the banks of the Cam was an independent corporation, governed by statutes imposed by the founders, perhaps, as in the case of my own college, by a founder who had died five hundred years before. Corporations, it is known, have no souls and very little conscience. The reformer might prove with the help of Adam Smith that they domore harm than good. It is a plausible opinion that Henry VIII. would have done a service to education if he had swept them away with the monasteries. To the stanch Tory, however, the modern reformer was as sacrilegious as the old king. His theory embodied what may seem to be an odd inversion of ideas. The colleges had been founded in order to promote education. The practice which had grown up would rather correspond to the theory that education was useful to promote the welfare of the colleges. A main and often the sole aim of a clever student was to become a fellow of a college, and if he acquired some intellectual training in the process, that was rather an incidental advantage than the ultimate justification of the system. The so - called university meant simply a loose federation such as was consistent with the acceptance of a thoroughgoing doctrine of “state-rights.” Its main function was to provide boards of examiners, which tested the fitness of candidates for fellowships. It followed, again, that the colleges were not coöperative so much as competitive bodies. They did not distribute among themselves different educational functions, but each accepted the same test for admission to its privileges. In Cambridge, we were content with the two old “triposes ” by which alone intellectual excellence was measured. We were, it might seem, so dominated by the great names of Newton and Bentley that any branch of study except mathematics or classical scholarship seemed inconceivable. To teach a youth philosophy would be to train him in talking humbug; and history or the physical sciences meant more cramming with facts. The outsider might urge that the course was strangely narrow, and that the university was nothing but a continued high school. Perhaps he might fancy that a little Germanizing would do no harm.

Certainly we needed reform ; and if change means reform, as I hope it does in this case, we have certainly got it. But the question occurs, Why did I love the place in spite of its admitted shortcomings? Was my conscience seared? Were not the colleges mere nests of abuses? The name “don” may suggest visions of the indolent bigoted dullards who disgusted Gray and Gibbon and Adam Smith, or the pedants whose ignorance of the world provoked the scorn of Chesterfield in the eighteenth century. Skill in writing Latin verses and solving mathematical conundrums may be compatible with intellectual torpor and devotion to port wine. When I search my memory, I can turn out a story or two to suggest that the type was not quite extinct. The peculiar position of a college fellow, for example, had its temptations. He held his post during celibacy, and after a time naturally began to feel yearnings for a domestic hearth of his own. That meant that he could not adopt teaching as a career for life, but as a steppingstone to something else. The “something else ” was normally a college living. After a few years spent in lecturing, he could become a country parson and try how far his knowledge of the Greek drama or the planetary theory would qualify him to edify the agricultural laborer. Meanwhile waiting for a vacancy was at times demoralizing. The best living of one of the colleges was held by an old gentleman, who had been described in a book of reminiscences as a specimen of the low moral standard prevalent at the end of the eighteenth century. He had the conscience to be still alive when the book appeared in the middle of the nineteenth. Meanwhile expectant successors would pay him visits, and find the old cynic smoking in his kitchen and unblushingly proclaiming his intention of prolonging his existence indefinitely. They could not bear it; and the last of them, a man whom I remember, sought consolation in the resources of the college cellar. A catastrophe followed. One day the fellow came to the college hall, not only in a state of partial sobriety, but with a disreputable companion who had hung about Cambridge levying contributions on some vague pretense of being a political refugee. Finding himself in respectable society, the disreputable person suddenly arose and proposed the health of the great John Bright. In those days he might as well have proposed Beelzebub. An explosion followed. The scandal was beyond concealment; the fellow was requested to leave Cambridge, and soon afterwards fell into a canal after dinner and was drowned. A week or two later, the living for which he had been waiting became vacant, by the death of the old incumbent, and had the fellow held out a week or two longer he might have succeeded to the pastoral guidance of that bit of Arcadia. This anecdote, I must add emphatically, represents the rare exception; very few of us took to drink; though now and then a man might be soured and become a crabbed, eccentric cynic of the ancient type.

The normal result, however, was that the official tutors were not troubled by any excess of zeal or hankering after the ideal ends of a university. They often did their duty honestly enough, but with a sense that it was not the duty of a life. As teachers, they were therefore eclipsed by the private tutors or “coaches ” who did the real work of preparing for examinations. The university professoriate had become still more emphatically a superfluity. It included, indeed, several men of real distinction, but they could rarely gather an audience. Nobody, for example, cared to study modern history. Professor Smythe, who died just before my time, though chiefly remembered as the tutor of Sheridan’s son, wrote some very able lectures upon the French Revolution. One of them (they were repeated annually) always drew an audience because it was known from previous experience that in the course of it he would burst into tears upon mentioning the melancholy fate of Marie Antoinette. That was a phenomenon worth observation. But speaking generally, if all the professorships had been abolished, no difference would have been perceived by the ordinary student. If the ideal university supposes a body of professors devoted to the extension of knowledge and of students accepting them as guides into the promised land of science and philosophy, we were certainly far enough from its realism. The most striking illustration of another peculiarity of the system of those days is given in the curious Memoirs of Mark Pattison, — a man whose devotion to thorough scholarship and the cause of rational inquiry fully redeemed certain obvious weaknesses. He was fretting at this time under the oppressive spirit of the old Oxford atmosphere. He had come to hold that Newman, who had for a time attracted him, represented mere obscurantism and obsolete theological dogma; and was hoping that the reaction which followed Newman’s secession would favor his own ambition to carry out desirable reforms. Election to the headship of his college would enable him to initiate a change for the better. The catastrophe which followed not only vexed him but, by his own account, altogether demoralized him for years. The headship of a college was then a most delightful position; it meant a good income, a comfortable house, and, if desired, a wife; and, moreover, it depended solely on the conscience of the holder whether it should or should not be treated as a sinecure. In Cambridge, more, I believe, than in Oxford, it was taken to be a kind of haven of dignified repose; and the fellows who were elected to it sometimes found the trial too much for their virtue. Pattison, who sincerely desired the post with a view to active reform, found that the other electors were not only totally indifferent or rather hostile to his schemes, but capable of opposing him by the meanest intrigues. They detached one of his supporters, in. spite of an explicit promise, by treachery worthy of the most corrupt political wire-pulling: and he thought himself justified, as he explains, in taking revenge by a counterplot. He punished his opponents by securing the election of a man whom he describes as a “ruffian” and a “satyr.” The morality of the proceeding seems questionable in spite of Pattison’s casuistry, but if certain scandals current in my time were well founded the case was not exceptional ; or exceptional only as far as an election to a mastership rarely involved any question about reform. It was frankly decided, as a rule, by personal interests, and though I do not think that any of our masters could be described as “satyrs,” they were men whose chief merit might be that their election vacated a college living, and who were fully content to be mildly respectable rulers of the King Log variety. Their juniors often regarded them as contemptible old fogies. “Our master,” I remember a fellow saying, “is intellectually an idiot, socially a snob, and physically dirty; but otherwise unobjectionable. ” But the post was so comfortable that even reformers scarcely proposed to spoil it by imposing active duties on the holders. We despised them, but could not deny that it would be very pleasant to succeed them in our own days of fogydom.

Perhaps I have said enough to confirm the suggestion that we were a nest of abuses. I must disavow the conclusion. The system implied a distorted conception of the true function of a university, but given the conception it was carried out with a fair amount of energy and public spirit. The mischief was the “ topsy-turvy ” theory which subordinated education or the promotion of intellectual activity to the interests of the corporate bodies. The pivot of the whole system had come to be the distribution of fellowships as the prizes for competition. That was carried out with perfect honesty. The elections were invariably conducted with absolute fairness. I never heard even a suspicion that the successful candidate was not the best man, or elected for any reason but his merits. The endowments intended to help students had become the prizes for which study was pursued. Education was expensive because (among other causes) the competition led to the substitution of private for official tutors. The complex machinery was worked for ends which ought to have been subordinate. Still its working implied a thorough spirit of fair play and hearty respect for really energetic labor; and these are not bad things in their way. I can best illustrate the point by an instance or two. I have spoken of my veneration for senior wranglers. The concrete embodiment of the genus for me was Isaac Todhunter. He was a striking case of a man designing a scheme of life and carrying it out systematically. When I was his pupil he was beginning to execute it by living the life of an ascetic recluse. His chief room in St. John’s College was devoted to his pupils, and furnished only with benches and tables at which we were always scribbling our lucubrations. Two little closets opened out of it, one his bedroom, the other the den where he examined our work. A table and a couple of chairs were the only furniture, and the walls were covered with books, each in a brown paper cover inscribed in exquisite handwriting with the title. The little man with his large head and delicate little hands always reminded me of a mouse, dressed in superlatively neat though certainly not fashionable costume. He labored from morning till night, taking indeed an hour’s constitutional round the socalled “parallelogram ” of footpaths — an essential part of our Cambridge habits — and spending another hour or so upon his dinner in the college hall at four. The rest of the day was devoted to the unremitting labors of teaching and of writing very successful text-books. Some fifteen years of such work enabled him to carry out the plan of life upon which he had resolved. He had saved money enough to give up the drudgery of teaching, married, and wrote books for the learned upon the history of mathematics. Of their merits I cannot speak; but the man impressed me mightily. I came to know in later days that, besides being of most amiable and simple character, he had many accomplishments outside his special branch of knowledge. But to me he represented the stern deity Mathesis; an embodied, categorical imperative, appealing to my conscience. I can still hear his regular adjuration, “Push on, ” which showed, I fear, too great a superiority to the frailty of the average youth. The flesh resisted, and to this day I have a personal dislike to the harvest moon,— one of the phenomena which he pressed upon my attention, and which I found hopelessly uninteresting. It was no fault of his if I gave three years to a study for which I had a very moderate aptitude. Perhaps it did me some good,— at least by teaching me respect for abilities and energies to which I could make no pretense. One may fancy one’s self to be a philosopher or a poet without much ground for it, but a mathematician gives with such palpable proofs of his superiority that one can have no illusions as to one’s own talent. Cambridge too, though the senior wrangler element was dominant, included other influences. Our most conspicuous representative in those days was the great Whewell — then Master of Trinity — “Science his forte and omniscience his foible ” — according to Sydney Smith’s phrase, which has perhaps become his most lasting monument. There were indeed no limits to his intellectual appetite. His writings treat of philosophy, ethics, political economy, mathematics, and the inductive sciences in general, besides church architecture and German literature, and even include respectable experiments in English verse. He was our greatest man, — the one resident whose fame was understood to have spread through England and even Europe. He looked the character. He was a man of splendid physique; tall, powerful, and with a brow worthy of an intellectual gladiator. He was the son of a Lancashire tradesman, and might have been taken as a promising champion had he stepped into the ring at a north country wrestling match. I recall him as I once saw him stalking through a howling mob at an election and apparently capable of knocking half a dozen of their heads together. He was said, not without some ground, to be rough and overbearing; and his early training had not given him the urbanity which makes a man to assume dignity without stiffness bordering on insolence. There is, I fancy, a slight reminiscence of him in Thackeray’s Dr. Crump in the Snob Papers But he was thoroughly magnanimous, a fair fighter, and incapable of petty spite ; not only, as I have good reason for knowing, a man of very warm affections, but also capable of most generous consideration for his subordinates. By my time we had forgiven the roughness, and were heartily proud of the man. For over fifty years he had been identified with Trinity. On his deathbed he had himself raised to take a last look at the great court, the most imposing of college quadrangles. Since Bentley had stalked in stately predominance through the same court, no one had been so impressive a ruler. His love for the place was shown by munificent benefactions and the foundation of a professorship, which was to be specially devoted to the cause of promoting international peace. Eminent men have held it, — and it is hardly their fault if that cause has not been very perceptibly advanced by their labors .

Whewell, though a Conservative, did more than any one to introduce new studies to the university. His fame has declined, partly because the advance of science has inevitably made his chief book antiquated; while philosophy, if it has not advanced, has at least deserted his position. A philosopher who would lead youth must clothe his doctrine in the last new fashion. Whewell had not that charm; and the shortcoming, if it were one, made him the more representative of Cambridge.

At this point I feel that I may naturally be expected to speak of some spiritual guide who pointed to the promised land. I should acknowledge a debt of gratitude to some Carlyle or Emerson or Newman, who roused my slumbering intellect and convinced me that I had a soul. It was, however, one of the great advantages of Cambridge that there was no such person in the place. Spiritual guides are very impressive but sometimes very mischievous persons. Prostration before a prophet is enfeebling. Bagehot points out the evil results upon his friend Clough of that most admirable person Dr. Arnold. Arnold’s pupils suffered from an excess of moral earnestness: they were liable to a hypertrophy of the conscience, and took life too seriously at starting. They became prigs, or the very enthusiasms gave way to cynicism as their illusions came into rough conflict with later experience. Our prosaic Cambridge spirit was free from that evil. Our teachers preached common sense, and common sense said, Stick to your triposes, grind at your mill, and don’t set the universe in order till you have taken your bachelor’s degree. The advantage, I admit, would have been questionable had it meant simple suppression of thought,— a rigid confinement of the intellectual vision within the blinkers imposed by the ambition for success in examinations. But the practical working was different. Clever young men will be interested in the questions of the day. We talked what we took for philosophy and politics and literature eagerly enough; and our discussions had the additional zest of being more or less trespassing into forbidden ground, and often involving a certain neglect of our duties. We made orations at the Union Debating Society; but admitted to ourselves, though we did not perhaps state in public, that we were very young and not competent to instruct the nation at large. A society to which I looked up with special reverence was the so-called “Apostles,” — of which Maurice and Tennyson and Arthur Hallam with other brilliant contemporaries had been the founders and first members. In my day, its most famous member was Clerk - Maxwell, the great physicist, whose mathematical genius was already recognized. He was a fascinating object to me: propounding quaint paradoxes in a broad Scottish accent; capable of writing humorous lampoons upon the dons; and turning his knowledge of dynamics to account by contriving new varieties of “headers ” into the Cam. I had not the honor of any close acquaintance, and felt myself unworthy of so high a distinction. Dimly, however, I understood, for the society shrouded itself in mystery, that he and a small knot of geniuses (there was another member or two whom, in those days, we took to be specimens of the class) met weekly to discuss the profoundest problems. Henry Sidgwick, who became a member a little later, has declared that to such discussions he owed a greater intellectual debt than to any other of the influences of his youth. I even once fostered, though not too presumptuously, the hope that I might myself become a member. My claims, alas, if they were considered, were not considered to be sufficient; and I only felt elevated by the consciousness that I was at least a contemporary of great rising luminaries. My own intellectual ambition was satisfied by an effort or two before the more popular audience of the Union. There I can only remember that — for some mysterious reason, perhaps because my father had been in the Colonial Office — I delivered an oration upon the affairs of Cape Colony,— I do not remember that my hearers were deeply moved, though my views, if adopted, would have prevented the Boer war. There, too, I heard the present Sir William Harcourt indulge in a scathing impeachment of some unfortunate official. When one of my elders asked me soon afterwards who was the coming man among the young men of the day, I replied emphatically that Harcourt was the man; but what crimes that official had committed, or whether he was permanently crushed, or, like Warren Hastings, survived the exposure, is more than I can tell.

I mention these shadowy memories to show that our intellects were not confined within the prescribed studies. Sir Walter Besant, in his Autobiography, describes his own experience during my time, and seems to me to exaggerate our backwardness. Besant says, for example, that he heard nothing of Browning or Thackeray. I certainly heard of both; and one of the most thorough Thackerayans of my acquaintance was a fellow of Besant’s own college, — which shows that one man’s experiences are not conclusive. Yet in Christ’s College, to which he belonged, he was a friend of Seeley and Calverley, —certainly among the most brilliant writers of their generation; and the famous examination in Pickwick set by Calverley proves that their enthusiasm was not confined to classical literature. Happily for us, the doctrine that English language and literature should be made a part of our education had not yet been proclaimed. We read what we liked and because we liked it, — the only kind of reading that is of much use according to my experience. An examination in Pickwick might now, I fear, be taken seriously, and compulsory cramming might conceivably make even Pickwick more or less repulsive. We had our enthusiasts for Dickens, who had fierce encounters with the partisans of Thackeray. Vanity Fair was the first book I ever bought for myself, and it had devotees who could say in how many places Sedley was misprinted for Osborne. There was another sect professing Brontë mania; Tennyson of course was known by heart up to date; and Browning was just dawning upon us. I read Pippa Passes at least and felt its charm, though not without some bewilderment, and happily did not break my shins over Sordello. There was no want of literary interest among our seniors. At Trinity, beneath the majestic Whewell, there was a group of able scholars. Among them was the dignified Thompson (Whewell’s successor), great on Plato and the appreciative friend and college contemporary of Tennyson and Thackeray and Edward FitzGerald, who once a term elaborated some stinging epigram to sharpen our wits; and Munro, the editor of Lucretius, lover of Old English authors and the embodiment of simple good fellowship; and W. G. Clark, one of the editors of the Cambridge Shakespeare, who left a permanent record of his tastes by founding a lectureship in English literature; and the librarian Brimley, who died prematurely after writing (among other things) an article of which Tennyson was reported to have said, “That is the way in which I like to be criticised.” The criticism, it is superfluous to say, was the reverse of the “ this-will-never-do ” variety. It appeared in the short-lived Cambridge Essays, ■— an attempt to found a new Quarterly in conjunction with a similar volume from Oxford; which, if I am not mistaken, failed like some other periodicals chiefly because it counted upon too high a standard of public taste.

There was another literary centre at Cambridge which had its influences. Daniel Macmillan (whom I just remember) and his brother Alexander were already conducting the business which rose to eminence under Alexander’s later management. In the modest shop of those days, and still more in a smokingroom at the back, I felt that I was really entering the inner shrine of a literary workshop. There I was thrilled by meeting a live lady novelist and an actual editor, to whom I ought to have been grateful—perhaps I was — for rejecting my first attempt at an article. Alexander Macmillan himself was one of the publishers to whom I owe it that I have never been tempted to adopt the conventional author’s view of his enemy. It is needless to say that he was a very shrewd man of business; and he had one (among many other excellent) qualities which I have noticed in others of the craft. He believed implicitly in his authors. He had the most genuine enthusiasm for Maurice and Kingsley and “Tom ” Hughes, whose works he was then publishing. I had heard some of Maurice’s lectures at King’s College, London, and they had, I may here briefly say, impressed me with a boyish sense of reverence. Kingsley became professor of history at Cambridge in my time, and then and afterwards I saw a good deal of him. The appointment was in some ways an unlucky one. The critics of the Freeman School fell upon him; he could, they admitted, perhaps write a spirited historical novel, but was quite incompetent for scientific history ; and Kingsley was modest enough to agree with his critics ; — a creditable but an unpleasant frame of mind. He was in truth a very attractive but far from a very strong man ; I have always delighted in his books, and I believe in his genius. But a change had come over him. As a young man he had denounced the existing order as a disciple of Carlyle, and as a “Christian Socialist ” had apparently sympathized with the revolutionary spirit. The fiery zeal of Yeast and Alton Locke had now strangely cooled. In Two Years Ago he discovered that the Crimean war had worked a great moral change on the country,— this queer doctrine, one must remember, was accepted by Tennyson in Maud,— and the poet who had in the Poacher’s Widow in Yeast denounced the British squire for his callous indifference to the laborer now discovered that the squire was a reformed character and a mainstay of social reform generally. Perhaps Kingsley’s early vehemence meant the feverish and over-excitable temperament which leads to premature exhaustion. Perhaps his hearty sympathies and power of social enjoyment made it impossible for him to preserve an attitude of antagonism to his own class. Anyhow he had “rallied ” or been reconciled, and his later works lost the old fire and ceased —• a poor compensation — to offend the respectable. Kingsley was a man of most quick and generous sympathies, not of very deeply rooted convictions, or, as he showed too clearly in the Newman controversy, of any logical closeness. If his intellect, however, had its weaknesses, it was impossible not to feel the charm of his character. His biography naturally exhibits him as always in his professional robes, and sinks the delightful companion full of graphic discourse upon literature or art or sport, who used to escape from the graver donnish circles and smoke as steadily as Amyas Leigh in Macmillan’s den or the rooms of some young college fellow. I always remember Macmillan listening respectfully but uncomfortably while Kingsley was wrestling with his stammer to denounce another object of his hearers’ respect, as “a d—d—damned l—l— liar.” My memory, I have said, is not happy in the choice of fragments to be preserved. With Kingsley I associate an occasional visitor, Tom Hughes, most genuine and simple of mankind. I had the good fortune to be tutor to Hughes’s younger brother, — a lad who might have stepped straight out of Tom Brown’s School Days. Though, like his elder, he was not specially strong in the department of brains,— Euclid, I fear, was an almost impenetrable mystery to him, — he was of so sweet and pure a nature as to exercise a quite abnormal charm upon his companions.

My relations to Kingsley and Hughes rested, I fear, to a considerable extent upon a basis of non-intellectual sympathy. Tom Brown was taken then as a manifesto of Muscular Christianity. The theory of that sect was that a man should fear God, and walk a thousand miles in a thousand hours. How the athletic doctrine came to be associated with the religious views of Maurice’s disciples is a problem which I need not examine. It may perhaps be soluble by readers of Kingsley’s Hypatia, who notice how clearly he prefers the heathen Goths to the ascetic monks of Alexandria. According to Kingsley, true Christianity was opposed to all asceticism, and meant therefore, among other things, a due regard for the corpus sanum. Anyhow, Tom Brown’s zeal for a combination of football and Arnold’s sermons struck us in those days as making a happy ideal. Modern educationalists tell me that the passion for athletic sports has become a nuisance. What ought to be a permitted recreation almost becomes a duty, or even a profession. In those early days the athletic zeal was still spontaneous and sincere. I really believed that I was acting from a high sense of duty when I encouraged my pupils in rowing, and I enjoyed the supreme triumph of seeing our boat at the head of the river as much as the great victory in the mathematical tripos, when, for once, we turned out a senior wrangler. Though (perhaps because) Nature has not qualified me for athletic excellence, I caught the contagion of enthusiasm. It is a natural sentiment for an author. Hazlitt gives one defense of the creed in his essay upon the Indian Jugglers. The perfection of their performance excites the admiration of the author who admitted that even his own essays — and presumably other people’s — fell short in many ways of absolute faultlessness. Whether the ethical advantages of athletics are as great as I fancied is another question. I preached that part of the Kingsley-Hughes creed with a zeal of which perhaps I ought to be ashamed. So far indeed as I am personally concerned, I have nothing but satisfaction in recalling my monomania. The one pursuit in which I am not contemptible is walking, and I still think with complacency of the hot day in which I did my fifty miles from Cambridge to London in twelve hours to attend a dinner of the Alpine Club. That admirable institution was just started at that time, chiefly by Cambridge men ; and I am still a loyal though decayed member. To it I owe many of the pleasantest little pictures preserved in my memory; not merely of exciting climbs and sublime views, which are all very well in their way, but of delightful association with like-minded chums in Alpine valleys, not yet too tourist-ridden, where companionship in little adventures might be congenial to more intellectual intercourse and help the formation of permanent friendships. The athleticism of Cambridge in those days had the same merit. The college boat club was a bond of union which enabled me to be on friendly terms with young gentlemen whose muscles were more developed than their brains, and so far favorable to the development of the wider human sympathies. Interest in such pursuits is at any rate antagonistic to the intellectual vice of priggishness.

Though in those days the cult, having still the charm of novelty, was preached with indiscriminating fervor, I see that my reminiscences have led me to diverge to rather undignified topics. The literature of athletics is abundant and popular, and I can always study it with more satisfaction than would become a dignified man of letters. Even the records of the prize ring have a charm for me, and I have a lurking regard for Tom Sayers. But it is not my purpose to record the achievements of old heroes on the river or the cricket field, or of those who sought glory on the snows of Mont Blanc or the crags of the Matterhorn. We — the Society of which I am thinking — were a set of young men not far removed on either side from thirty, and undoubtedly we had both legs and stomachs. Anything might serve for a pretext for social gatherings. We were certainly not above enjoying the “gaudy ” or college feast; performances which I recall with a certain shudder, when we could sit, like the proverbial alderman, trying our digestions with substantial eating and drinking for longer hours than I like to remember, and yet deriving a certain sanction to the proceeding from drinking to the pious memory of the founder in the grace cup which he had bequeathed. It seemed to be not prosaic gorging, but celebrating a quasi-religious ceremony. But whatever the pretext, there was no want of really intellectual intercourse. It may be a natural illusion, but it seems to me that I have never listened to better conversation than I heard on such occasions. At that time of life one still believes in arguing. One has a touching faith in one’s power of putting one’s own ideas into other people’s minds, a fact which seems to become more impossible the longer one lives. The demon has not yet whispered that nothing can be said which has not already been said and said much better, or that arguing means only airing your own strongest prejudices. In polite circles, a man who really argues is suspected of rudeness; he becomes afraid of treading upon his neighbor’s toes if he says what he really thinks. He talks from the lips outwards, or confines himself to the anecdotic variety of conversation. But in those days one could enjoy conversation in the true Johnsonian spirit, considered as a strenuous game of intellectual gymnastics, where you honored the man who fairly set his mind to yours and could give and take a “swashing blow” with thoroughly good temper. If you did not really convert, at least you got your own opinions properly marshaled and arranged, and received a valuable stimulus in elaborating your own scheme of things in general. The arguments in detail have long vanished from my memory, but I remember occasions on which they were prolonged for periods which show how deeply we were interested. I am afraid that such discussions would now send me to sleep in a few minutes. The question remains, What did we talk about, and in what direction were the minds of my contemporaries tending? Of that I shall have to speak.

Leslie Stephen.

(To be continued.)